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December 2014
Issue: May 1, 2014

Green Ideas

By: Marc Loftus & Linda Romanello
Post spoke with a number of manufacturers and studios about how they are trying to lighten their environmental footprint. Here's a look at some of their practices, many of which are easy to implement.

Tekserve implements ‘eWaste’ recycling program
By Linda Romanello
According to statistics from dosomething.org, electronic waste, or e-waste, represents two percent of America’s trash in landfills, but equals 70 percent of its overall toxic waste. Everyday electronic gear and devices contain toxic chemicals such as mercury and lead that, when not disposed of correctly, can leak into the water and air, and are harmful to our nervous system, blood and kidneys. 

Twenty to 50 million metric tons of e-waste is disposed of worldwide every year, with only 12.5 percent of it being recycled. However, there are many companies and organizations looking to reverse these statistics. Businesses such as New York-based Tekserve (www.tekserve.com) are offering recycling programs that ultimately work to keep these harmful toxins out of the environment.



Since 2007, Tekserve, a provider of technology solutions for creative professionals in a variety of markets, has been partnering with New York’s Lower East Side Ecology Center (www.lesecologycenter.org) to sponsor quarterly recycling events throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island for their “eWaste” program. According to Lara Ngai, graphic designer at Tekserve and project manager for the joint initiative, the program has so far resulted in the collection of almost 900 tons of discarded electronics. “This has been a very successful program for us,” she says. “We’ve been extremely happy with the results so far.”

Essentially, anyone looking to discard of an electronics item can do so at one of the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s locations throughout the region and/or at Tekserve’s New York location once a year during its on-site recycling event. Lower East Side Ecology Center handles and sorts through all the electronics that have been handed in and repurposes and resells items that can be salvaged as low-cost options for bargain hunters, people in need, etc. 

“It’s a great way to make use of something that another person didn’t want,” adds Ngai. “And it falls in line with the green initiative as well. Items that can’t be reused are then recycled in a safe and eco-friendly way, so [they’re] not harmful to the environment at all.” 



“Our electronic waste reuse and recycling program is one of the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s best-known programs and is a great way to ensure that unwanted or broken electronics are given a second life through reuse or responsible recycling,” says Caroline Kruse, development director for the Lower East Side Ecology Center. “We have been offering the program since 2003 and have been offering e-waste collection events in partnership with Tekserve since 2007, which has been a very positive collaboration. By working together, we are able to bring awareness about e-waste reuse and recycling to public and business electronic equipment consumers. Our program aims to make responsible disposal of electronics as convenient as possible because the sooner you donate an item that you are not using, the more likely it is to be able to be reused.”

To encourage people to participate in these events, Tekserve offers a number of incentives, including a credit at its store and a raffle for a MacBook Air at the end of the event, which, according to Ngai, is “the smallest and lightest laptop, and uses the least amount of energy.”
Tekserve hopes the program will encourage customers to embrace a cleaner lifestyle.


Tips to keep it green 
By Lara Ngai
Tekserve

1. Unplug It: Do not keep your computers and laptops plugged in at all times. Not only does it use unnecessary electricity, but it will drain the battery over time and you’ll need to replace it sooner. The same goes for phone chargers as well.

2. Consider Ecofonts: These are fonts that use less ink with tiny hollow dots to create type spaces, instead of solid ink. Thet reduce ink consumption when printing, saving on costs.

3. Buy Green: When looking to buy new, find companies such as Tekserve that offer a selection of green products — the Solio solar charger for mobile devices, solar backpack chargers if you’re on the go, the Logitech wireless keyboards (which is solar powered, doesn’t need any batteries, and can last up to three months on one charge), and the MacBook Air, which uses the least amount of energy. 


Manufacturers offer green solutions
By Linda Romanello
With an increased awareness of the environment, and the incorporating and maintaining of “green practices” by many businesses, studios have been proactive, and even quite creative, in ways to save space, energy, time, and money, while reducing harmful wastes. For instance, staffers at some studios ride their bikes to work, while others have incorporated recycling programs or use organic materials for insulating sound rooms.

Following suit, manufacturers are integrating many of the same practices, but are also presenting a unique perspective on the cloud (Avid Everywhere, Adobe Anywhere, etc.), tapeless workflows and/or products with smaller form factors and how it all relates to the environment.


Facilis' Jim McKenna

For instance, James McKenna, VP at Facilis Technology (www.facilis.com), which designs and builds cost-effective, high-capacity, turnkey shared storage and archiving solutions for post and content creation pros working in the film, TV, education and audio/visual markets, suggests replacing a larger, older traditional SAN with a smaller form factor unit. McKenna uses the company’s TerraBlock shared storage environment as an example, stressing that post facilities could save up to thousands of kilowatt hours (kWh) over the course of a year. 

“With deadlines and budgets tighter than ever, post facilities are looking for ways to trim production costs, while also remaining conscious of the impact their work has on the environment,” says McKenna. “The large-scale SAN infrastructures traditionally associated with big budget productions are becoming less favorable, as they consume huge volumes of energy and waste space within a facility. As a result, we’re starting to see several post houses adopt smaller form factor shared storage units.”

Pronology (www.pronology.com), a NY-based developer of tapeless workflow solutions, recently released asset management software that allows users the option of working in the cloud, via an internal intranet or a secure Pronology-hosted network. 

According to Mike Shore, Pronology co-founder, the company’s digital asset management system provides users with a tapeless workflow solution. While the solution eliminates unnecessary waste of countless tapes, it also promotes less commuting for staff. Essentially, by utilizing a standard Web-browser as its primary interface, Pronology allows a limitless number of users to simultaneously and remotely perform a number of actions, including the ability to acquire, organize and transcode from ingest. So, the system basically encourages multiple staff members from production crews including the producer/director, the ability to work off-site.


Pronology's Mike Shore

“The move to tapeless capture and delivery is the first benefit offered by the green, eco-friendly future enabled by media asset management,” says Shore. “Step two is the cloud, as it is well suited to collaboration across distance. It eliminates the need to physically travel to a location to view all of the media that is part of a production. Pronology makes this easy by sitting at the point of capture, and creating live proxy recordings that are frame-accurately linked to their high-resolution relatives, and are instantly viewable on the Web. These can be hosted off-site, or on…allowing users the opportunity to build their own cloud. With the ability to view live proxies and approve content off-site, the producer can be virtually ‘on-set’ from anywhere in the world.”

“In addition to obvious cost savings associated with digital tape media over disk storage, digital tapes also leave a minimal carbon footprint, making them extremely green,” adds Andy Hurt, VP of global product and marketing, Front Porch Digital (www.fpdigital.com). Front Porch offers digital asset management solutions for migrating, managing and delivering media content.

Hurt further explains that, “When comparing tape- versus disk-based cloud environments, tape’s carbon footprint is about 99 percent less than disk alone. In other words, if the cloud is storing 35PBs of storage on tape, the total carbon dioxide is 11,863 kilograms versus 1,093,067 kilograms on disk. Further, the total power requirements associated with disk would be 83,231 kilowatt-hours per month versus a mere 903 kWh per month with tape. So, when choosing a cloud storage provider, ask what technology is deployed and how it translates to a carbon footprint? At Front Porch Digital, we believe in balancing best-of-breed cloud solutions and corporate environmental responsibility. With digital tape, we can achieve that balance.”  


Front Porch's Andy Hurt

Barnfind (www.barnfind.no), manufacturer of the multi-function, BarnOne low power signal transport solution that supports numerous signals in one frame, has incorporated green practices right from the start, according to CEO, Wiggo Evensen. The company re-uses materials when possible, including its packaging, which consists of recycled boxes that are wrapped with the Barnfind logo for minimal waste. Even the circuit boards are assembled, tested and packed together. In fact, the company touts its green benefits at industry shows, such as NAB, in its signage. 

“Where it is typical for others to use 500W of energy for 32x32 routing, fiber transport, CWDM/DWDM muxing, conversion, distribution, sync, reclocking etc., our platform only uses 60W maximum, with an extremely low carbon footprint,” says Evensen.



“Barnfind has always strived to be extremely ecologically responsible, and the end user/customer benefits in numerous ways,” he adds. “First, our customers need only one software package — BarnStudio — and can configure the system as often and in as many ways as they want. They can also reuse their existing SFPs, as long as they are following the MSA standard for SFPs. Second, customers save significant real estate because Barnfind packs all these functions into a 1RU chassis. Last, Barnfind’s price is easily one-half of what it would cost for similar solutions. We like to be seen as the ‘new kid in town’ that does things differently.”


Zoic marries green with healthy
By Marc Loftus
CULVER CITY, CA — Zoic Studios (www.zoicstudios.com), which specializes in VFX for commercials, television and film, has a mission, says CFO/COO Tim McBride, to be “both green and healthy.” The studio has a number of efforts in place, and visitors to its LA studio will notice some of them immediately — like  when they come upon the company’s Zoic-branded bicycles at the front entrance.

“I’m sure it saves a little bit on the planet by having bikes, but I also see it as green married together with morale and healthiness,” says McBride. “The concept was to have a hip look and appearance, but it’s healthy too. We happen to be in the post business, where we sit at our desks and work in dark rooms, so it’s nice to have the opportunity to get our butts outside and hear the birds chirp and smell the grass.”



When it comes to gear, Zoic participates in local e-cycling programs when needed, helping to keep old electronics out of landfills. For still usable equipment that might not make the cut for client work, they will donate it to local charities and area schools.

From a consumption standpoint, Zoic has worked to do away with snacks and junk food packaged in individual wrappers. Instead, the company buys healthy items in bulk and makes them available to staffers via canisters.
The staff, says McBride, has been pretty receptive to the studio’s efforts. “I think we are generous in the food and beverages we offer, the free breakfast, and the ability to make lunch,” he notes. 

The only resistance came in doing away with bottled water, he recalls. “There was a little bit of snickering,” he says of the change to filtered water and reusable glasses. “Everybody loved to have their bottle of water that they’d carry with them and then put down. But, it kills you to find a bottle that’s been left with only a few sips taken.”

McBride doesn’t see Zoic’s efforts as being much different than many other studios in the post business. “We looked around at ways to improve without going overboard,” he says. The effort extends to Zoic’s location in Vancouver too.


'Green’ is part of Nvidia’s company fabric
By Marc Loftus
SAN JOSE, CA — Nvidia, which specializes in developing powerful GPUs that can power high-end graphics and animation applications, has a number of green efforts in place. 



“Sensitivity to environmental concerns is woven into every aspect of Nvidia’s global enterprise, from facilities operations to product design,” notes Greg Estes, VP of marketing for Nvidia Pro Visualization. “In fact, Nvidia was ranked as the sixth greenest company in the country in Newsweek’s last survey. Whether we are engineering systems to deliver high-end graphics applications through the cloud or designing GPU architectures that enable the creation of groundbreaking visual effects in movies like Gravity, improving energy efficiency is a principle goal in our R&D efforts. In fact, the Quadro K6000, our highest performing GPU, is over 20 percent more power efficient than its closest competitive product. And for many, power efficiency is another important consideration when determining the right graphics card.”  

Estes points to “The Green500,” which lists the world’s most energy-efficient supercomputers. The top 10 systems are all powered by Nvidia Tesla GPUs (www.green500.org/lists/green201311). The company also uses blogs so discuss its efforts (www.nvidia.com/object/fy13-gcr-design-advances.html). Nvidia’s next generation GPU family, named Pascal, will roll out in 2016 and is said to “quadruple energy efficiency.”




LA-based EcoSet (http://ecosetconsulting.com) helps find new applications for set materials after a production has wrapped, keeping them out of landfills. EcoSet’s Materials Oasis is a place where non-profits, artists, schools and individuals can go to pick up materials at no cost. 



Reel FX partners with Canopy Project

DALLAS — Reel FX (www.reelfx.com), a studio that works on spots, animated features and mobile apps, recently launched an online Web store called Get Reel Goods (http://getreelgoods.com) and teamed up with The Canopy Project (www.earthday.org) for Earth Day to sell donated, designer t-shirts. 



The shirts were all screen printed at the facility using recycled, water-based ink. Every dollar that they receive from the sale of items is being donated to The Canopy Project, which plants trees in impoverished communities, helping to prevent land degradation and provide food, energy and income. For each dollar collected, one tree is planted. In addition, when the T-shirts are shipped from the studio, the order includes a pack of wildflower seeds that buyers can plant.


Sonic Union sees savings
By Marc Loftus
NEW YORK — Sonic Union (www.sonic union.com), which specializes in audio post for commercials, has put a number of green practices in place. The six-year-old facility recently added two new audio suites, and used the renovation as an opportunity to further expand their green initiative.

Adam Barone is the managing director at Sonic Union, and says that while the initiatives are not a driving force behind their business, they have been able to realize some savings as a result. The studio uses Fujifilm’s Permivault service, sending data each night to a cloud that is then archived to LTO tape. The service eliminates the need to keep media on spinning drives that consume electricity.



With the recent renovation, Sonic Union consulted with an architect who helped make decisions based on sustainable practices. Bamboo and plywood were used in construction, and recycled textiles were used for acoustical material. Rather than put in new floors, the 100-plus-year-old oak floors were refinished. In addition, reclaimed wood from an old tobacco farm was used to create the new mix desks.

Lighting was also upgraded throughout the facility. Existing fluorescent lighting was replaced with LED fixtures. “When we first built the studio six years ago, we chose not to use LED lighting because it wasn’t reliably dimmable,” Barone recalls. The new LEDs offer improved performance.

Barone adds that the AC has also been tweaked. “The air conditioning has to cool the whole space, but we can’t hear air movement. Sophisticated controls allow us to manage it seasonally, so we never have wasted cool air.”


Sony's monitor line-up reflects green effort
By Marc Loftus
PARK RIDGE, NJ — Back in the early 2000s, Sony embarked on a green initiative that included the discontinuation of its CRT monitors, which were considered lead-heavy and dangerous to dispose of in landfills. Gary Mandle, who serves as senior product manager for professional monitors at the company, says Sony then began re-qualifying its component vendors, who had to go back to their drawing boards and come up with compatible sub assemblies that met the green standard. 

“We had an inspection program,” says Mandle of the process. “I think [Sony Japan] saw the writing on the wall, in Japan, as far as how it affects the environment and projected their plan to rest the of world.” Today, the company offers a range of OLED- and LCD-based pro monitors that are high in performance, and more environmentally friendly. 



OLED, says Mandle, is by far more energy efficient than LCD. “They are self emitting, so a panel makes light, whereas an LCD needs a backlight.” The newer LCD models use LEDs, which help to save on energy. Sony’s top of the line BVM series of master reference monitors are OLED based, as are the company’s mid-level PVM series. The LMD line is similar to the PVM series, but uses LCD technology.

Client demand also drives development: OB trucks need lighter-weight units, and on-set users appreciate better battery performance. For more details on manufacturers and studios that have implemented eco-friendly initiatives, turn to our “Green Practices” feature on page 36. 


Did you know?

Starting January 1, 2015, it will be illegal for New York State residents and businesses to throw away most electronics, such as TVs, computers, printers, etc. Get into the habit of recycling electronics today.